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Is it better to be loved or feared?

by Dear Jon
November 2, 2001

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92nd Sort_Dear Jon-Is it better to be loved or feared? ACTUAL LETTER TO DEAR JON:

Dear Jon,

If everything "tastes like chicken," then what does chicken taste like?

Gonzo from Greensboro

Dear Green,

You answered your own question. Chicken tastes like chicken because everything tastes like chicken. Also, chicken tastes like everything else.


Dear Jon,

Is it better to be loved or feared?


Dear Phil,

The way you answer this question will make all the difference in how you conduct your relationships, and whether your death will be mourned or celebrated. It is a question we need to wrestle with as the American public, as we choose for ourselves whether we will be a beacon of freedom in our world, or a global colonial empire.

For many decades, the United States of America was a much-loved nation. America was trusted to do the right thing most of the time. Most of the time, the right thing was to mind our own business unless our security was at stake. Immigrants could look forward to a new world where liberty was the law.

Now America is greatly feared. We are the only global superpower; only our military has the ability to touch any and every part of the world, and our satellites beam our culture to every corner. We choose sides in civil wars.

We have deposed democratically elected governments and imposed dictators, either by our soldiers or through our sponsorship. Recently our "special forces" and spies have gotten some press. We, the People, have no idea the extent of our involvement in Nicaragua, Honduras, and El Salvador in the 1980's. We have no idea the extent to which our "war on drugs" has involved soldiers on the ground in South American countries. Until we have these facts, We the People will have no idea the extent to which we are feared. Fear is the step that leads across the threshhold of hate.

During the Reagan era, a cartoon strip called "Bloom County" ™ by Berkely Breathed, with Bill the Cat and Opus the Penguin, became a hit. In a parody of one of our few Caribbean adventures which received press coverage, our "liberation" of Grenada, Bloom County took up the story of U.S. Marines "liberating" Antarctica just when Opus was on his quest to find his parents.

Opus asks one of the Marines whether this "liberation" was really welcomed by the inhabitants of Antarctica. The Marine replies that of course, the people Americans liberate know what America stands for, and they know how to welcome the Americans. In the last panel of that strip, a flock of penguins on the antarctic ice have their wings raised in surrender, and they are saying in unison:

"Don't Shoot! We Surrender! Viva le Reagan! Viva le Weinberger! We Didn't Know About the Cubans!"

You don't know whether to laugh or cry.

A wise oriental man once wrote in a letter to friends: "Perfect love casts out fear." Whereas love from abroad would have honored the architectural and human feat of the World Trade towers, fear from abroad has gotten us cheap gasoline for our SUVs. Which is better?

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